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Was Stalingrad yet another Manstein's Lost Victory?


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#51 Tamino

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 05:35 AM

Indeed! Manstein played chess and bridge in his luxurious headquarters train.

But as Manstein travelled to his new headquarters he was informed about the gravity of situation first at Smolensk railway station by Field Marshall von Kluge and again on arrival to the H.Q. of the Army Group B by general von Weichs who presented him an updated operations map.

Manstein became fully aware of the danger for himself later, after Zhukov commenced the Little Saturn. By that time he must have realized that he had to abandon the 6th army in the Cauldron to save himself. Until then he expected a head on clash with the Red Army but Soviets decided to attack at the place where he was indeed vulnerable: the rear and left flank of Army Group Don.

One thing is certain, however: he kept Paulus uninformed and paralyzed him by making von Seydlitz commander-in-chief of the north-eastern part of the Cauldron, including Stalingrad itself.

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#52 steverodgers801

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 05:43 AM

I would like to point out that a major reason that Bagration was such a succes is that the Germans were trying to do a Manstein type backhand. THe Germans were badly fooled and were unable to adjust. Mansteins tactic only works if the SOviets cooperate.

#53 scipio

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 01:10 PM

The Pocket was closed on 20th November. On 22th November, Hitler had issued a FuhrerBehfelt refusing Paulus's request to break out and on 23rd Paulus had repeated the request with more urgency

Tamino does not the following messages show that Manstein was not responsible for any decisions at the this period and that the appointment of Seydich had been made earlier by Hitler himself?

According to what I read Seydich had that same day in direct contradiction to orders withdrawn 94th ID from The North East of the Pocket and had urged a break-out. In fact his view was that Paulus take matters into his own hands and break out immediately.

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#54 Tamino

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:42 PM

Thanks Scipio for copies of these important documents and your contribution to this debate.:)

Right now, I am re-reading Bevors' “… The Fateful Siege 1942” and this time I have noticed his interest for this aspect of the battle for Stalingrad. He has made a very interesting parallel between Manstein and “General Hans Yorck von Wartenburg's revolt at Tauroggen in December 1812, when he refused to fight any longer under Napoleon, an event which triggered a wave of patriotic feeling in Germany.”

Bevor concludes: “The only actor in this drama capable of playing the part of Yorck was Manstein, as Tresckow and Stauffenberg had recognized, but Manstein, they would discover, had no intention of accepting such a dangerous role.”

Indeed, Manstein was ambitious.

The 6th Army wasn’t capable escaping from the encirclement, command over the troops in the Cauldron was divided and the only hope was Manstein, as the commander of the Army Group Don. He could have done the same thing like Zhukow did a year before near Moscow: he tore apart a command issued by Stavka and did it his way with excuse that he, as the front line commander had the authority to overturn the Stavka command. Manstein had no guts to cotravene the Führers’ order. It is common practice to charge Paulus for failing to rescue the 6th Army but that was Manstein’s duty which he couldn’t accomplish for his selfish reasons.

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#55 Kai-Petri

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:48 PM

It seems that Hitler was "quiet" for a day and a half after the pocket closed. Paulus could have taken this opportunity and make his troops "run west". In this situation Hitler might be able to only admit what has happened. then again I recall Hitler told Rommel in Alamein that his troops must turn back and fight and die where they stand.


" On 21 November Paulus´recommendation to the superior Army group was to withdraw the gravely endangered army to an arc on the Don and the Chir.Army Group agreed with the operational intentions of the Army Commander. But on the evening of the same day it passed on without comment an order by OKH which said that Sixth Army was to hold Stalingrad and the line on the Volga at all costs."

Stalingrad memories and reassessments by Joachim Wieder and Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel

" the new commander of Army group Field Marshal Manstein,joined von Weichs at Starobelsk at about 0900 hours on 24 November after a 3-day train ride from Vitebsk. From 0930 hours on , he had himself breifed on the situation. As colonel i.G. Winter, who was on von Weichs´staff reported decades later, von Manstein and his staff went into this meeting with an attitude of, "OK, you old codgers, just leave things to us." Von Manstein´s arrogance and the injurious manner in which he rejected von Weichs´arguments in favour of withdrawing Sixth Army created a very frosty and reserved atmosphere.
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#56 Tamino

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:55 PM

The Pocket was closed on 20th November...

The encirclement of German forces in Stalingrad was completed on 22 November 1942.

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#57 Tamino

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 05:05 PM

It seems that Hitler was "quiet" for a day and a half after the pocket closed. Paulus could have taken this opportunity and make his troops "run west". In this situation Hitler might be able to only admit what has happened. then again I recall Hitler told Rommel in Alamein that his troops must turn back and fight and die where they stand...

Hitler was "silent" because on the evening of 22 November he was traveling with Keitel and Jodl in his special train from Berchtesgaden to Leipzig and then by an aeroplane to Rastenburg.

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#58 belasar

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 07:45 PM

Hitler was "silent" because on the evening of 22 November he was traveling with Keitel and Jodl in his special train from Berchtesgaden to Leipzig and then by an aeroplane to Rastenburg.


This statement is a bit of a canard is it not?

According to our friend Wiki, the Fuhrer Train had a Befehlswagen (Conference and Communications car) directly behind Hitler's Fuhrerwagen. Traveling by train in itself was little handicap to radio communications.

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#59 Tamino

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 08:56 PM

This statement is a bit of a canard is it not?

According to our friend Wiki, the Fuhrer Train had a Befehlswagen (Conference and Communications car) directly behind Hitler's Fuhrerwagen. Traveling by train in itself was little handicap to radio communications.

I wouldn't say so. He halted the train every few hours to speak, but to someone else: to Kurt Zeitzler! On one occasion he said: 'We've found another way out.' He spoke to General Hans Jeschonnek too, about the air-lift, before contacting Göring. Of course he spoke, but he hasn't been speaking to Paulus.

This information cannot be found in Wiki. ;)

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#60 scipio

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 09:16 PM

then again I recall Hitler told Rommel in Alamein that his troops must turn back and fight and die where they stand


This is a rather good parallel with Stalingrad.

Rommel was ordered by the Fuhrer not to withdraw. Rommels' boss Kesselring (ie the same relative position as Manstein to Paulus) did nothing and said nothing, to my knowledge, but Rommel took it on himself to save his forces, retreat and face the wroth of Hitler.

Here Paulus has several days (and the best ones) before 26th November where he is indisputably in charge but chickens out of taking responsibility. Seydlitz was pushing Paulus to withdraw and it took Paulus to show him the direct orders from Hitler to shrug his shoulders and say "well I suppose we have to obey".

Manstein is all the negative things you say and wanted to avoid the odium of directly ordering Paulus to quit Stalingrad in direct contravention of Hitler's orders. However, Paulus could easily have converted Manstein's rescue attempt from a link-up to break out. Aren't we being a bit naive and pedantic to condemn Manstein when so much of the decision could have been taken by Paulus (admittedly at a detriment to his career prospects).
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#61 Tamino

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 09:46 PM

This is a rather good parallel with Stalingrad.

Rommel was ordered by the Fuhrer not to withdraw. Rommels' boss Kesselring (ie the same relative position as Manstein to Paulus) did nothing and said nothing, to my knowledge, but Rommel took it on himself to save his forces, retreat and face the wroth of Hitler.

Here Paulus has several days (and the best ones) before 26th November where he is indisputably in charge but chickens out of taking responsibility. Seydlitz was pushing Paulus to withdraw and it took Paulus to show him the direct orders from Hitler to shrug his shoulders and say "well I suppose we have to obey".

Manstein is all the negative things you say and wanted to avoid the odium of directly ordering Paulus to quit Stalingrad in direct contravention of Hitler's orders. However, Paulus could easily have converted Manstein's rescue attempt from a link-up to break out. Aren't we being a bit naive and pedantic to condemn Manstein when so much of the decision could have been taken by Paulus (admittedly at a detriment to his career prospects).

That is indeed a good parallel. But consider difficulties of retreating from Chuikov and at the same time breaking through deep zones filled with Zhukov's fresh troops who have just arrived behind the lines of the 6th Army. Good example is when von Seidlitz ordered retreat to 60th Motorized Infantry Division and the 94th Infantry Division on 23 November. He wanted to force Paulus's hand by starting the retreat. Edwyn Hoyt described the battle as follows: "When the 94th Division started to draw back, it was attacked by the Russian 62nd Army. The men of the 94th Division were caught in the open, and the toll exacted was enormous. One officer observed that this would mean the loss of one-third of the division. As it turned out he was an optimist." Half starved, exhausted men, without enough fuel, with no reserves couldn't break out without the assistance from the outside. To come 40 miles away from the pocket wasn't enough. Reinforcements had to enter the pocket to help.

I am not claiming that the loss of the 6th Army was entirely Manstein's fault - that would have been utterly wrong. Just his responsibility was higher than he was ready to admit. On the other side, Pauls' responsibility is exaggerated. The truth is somewhere in between. Finally, Hitler's responsibility was the greatest but we cannot allow generalization of his guilt without investigating participation of his henchmen.

I'm sorry, I wasn't that gathered in this post but it is a bit too late and there may be some thought and syntax errors. I do apology for my clumsiness.
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#62 Kai-Petri

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 07:07 AM

Interesting also in my opinion is that the Winterstorm operation by Hoth was also meant to be met by troops from Stalingrad at some point. The attack from the Stalingrad was possible only by Manstein giving the key word. Not Paulus. So Manstein was keeeping the operation in his hands.
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#63 steverodgers801

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:40 AM

There were several problems with Paulus tying to break out. The main one was the lack of fuel and vehicles to move the troops. The second would be trying to break through while defending against a certain Soviet strike against troops trying to break out. Finally as mentioned the troops were in poor condition, which is why I think so many died in captivity

#64 Tamino

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:09 PM

This statement is a bit of a canard is it not? …

Let me ask you the same question. This statement is a bit of a canard:

According to our friend Wiki, the Fuhrer Train had a Befehlswagen (Conference and Communications car) directly behind Hitler's Fuhrerwagen. Traveling by train in itself was little handicap to radio communications.

… is it not?
Now, tell me please, what's so utterly wrong with your post? Hint: read carefully my post #59. Do you see? ;)

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#65 Tamino

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 05:43 PM

Adolf had connectivity problems.

Attached Files


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#66 Tamino

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:35 PM

Hitler was "silent" because on the evening of 22 November he was traveling with Keitel and Jodl in his special train from Berchtesgaden to Leipzig and then by an aeroplane to Rastenburg.

This statement is a bit of a canard is it not?

According to our friend Wiki, the Fuhrer Train had a Befehlswagen (Conference and Communications car) directly behind Hitler's Fuhrerwagen. Traveling by train in itself was little handicap to radio communications.

[FONT=&]It is difficult to judge communication problems if you read about the Befehlwagen from Wiki, with a smartphone in your pocket. Here is description of then the state-of-art communication system from Irving's “Führer und Reichskanzler”. He describes exactly what we are talking about, Führer's journey on 22th November 1942:[/FONT]

[FONT=&]Gegen Mittag hatte Hitler schon eingesehen, daß er seine Rückkehr nach Ostpreußen nicht mehr länger hinausschieben konnte. Um 21.55 Uhr fuhr sein Sonderzug von Berchtesgaden ab. Einen ganzen Tag lang war er in den nach Osten dampfenden Zug eingeschlossen. Ungefähr alle vier Stunden hielt der Zug, damit die Fernsprechverbindung zum OKH für ein kurzes Gespräch hergestellt werden konnte. Sodann erschien Hitler, um sich selbst über die neuen Nachrichten zu informieren.[/FONT]

[FONT=&]or, in English:[/FONT]
[FONT=&]

Around noon, Hitler had already realized that his return to East Prussia could not be postponed any longer. At 21.55 his special train departed from Berchtesgaden. For a whole day he was trapped in the steaming train moving eastward. About every four hours, the train stopped so that the telephone connection is made to the High Command for a quick chat. Then came Hitler, to keep informed about the new messages.

[/FONT]
[FONT=&]Just two weeks before, on 7. November 1942, A. Speer joined Führer on his trip to Berthesgarten, on the same train »Amerika«. Here is how Speer describes "communication":

The atmosphere was tense. We were already many hours late, for at every sizable station a prolonged stop was made in order to connect the telephone cable with the railroad telegraph system, so we could get the latest reports.

Now, you may judge how comfortable was »radio« communication in November 1942 when the train had to stop at some sizeable railway station to connect cables to the railroad telegraph system. Most likely, the whole conversation had to be encoded and decoded with Enigma.

[/FONT]...a bit of a canard?

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#67 Tamino

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:21 PM

A short SMS chat from the FührerTrain on 22. November 1942:

Attached File  Fuhrerphone.jpg   37.53KB   16 downloads:

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#68 belasar

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:25 PM

Perhaps you should check your own posts. If Hitler was "silent" it was because he chose to be since as you confirm he was communicating with Berlin periodically. At any of these stops he could have sent a message to Russia though Berlin or had an office detrain at any station with a message to seek a hardline communication line while he proceeded onward.

Yes it was hard to communicate, but not impossible as you implied in Post 57



Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)

#69 Tamino

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:37 PM

This statement is a bit of a canard is it not?

According to our friend Wiki, the Fuhrer Train had a Befehlswagen (Conference and Communications car) directly behind Hitler's Fuhrerwagen. Traveling by train in itself was little handicap to radio communications.

Unfortunately, you still haven't realised what was so wrong with your post.

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#70 belasar

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:53 PM

Perhaps you could quit playing games and actually say what you mean?
Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)

#71 Tamino

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:35 AM

...Traveling by train in itself was little handicap to radio communications...

Are you serious about the "radio communications" and why not?

During the short conversation Hitler said to Zeitzler just "Wir sprechen morgen mündlich weiter (*)." and they haven't been speaking since then until the Führer has met Zeitzler personally. Hitler was essentially silent: he just kept informed during his stops. The journey itself was a huge obstacle to communication of any kind except personal, for security reasons.

* word for word translation is: "We [will] speak tomorrow orally."

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#72 steverodgers801

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 04:52 AM

Regardless of whether or not Hitler had the info he needed , a withdrawal by 6th army was not going to allowed.

#73 belasar

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 05:51 PM

Ah, so your objection is to my use of the term 'Radio Communications'.

Though I lack the documentation for it, I feel confident that the Fuhrer's train had a radio as well as the hook-up to railway telegraph lines. I would find it mind boggling to learn that it did not have a radio for emergencies. What if the train was over run by Smruff's and they proceeded to eat up all the Schnitzel? Would Hitler be forced to flee on foot in the middle of the night simply because he could not call for help?

Certainly he would desire the most secure manner to send any message, but most messages to frontline commanders or ships at sea, would at some point go over radio waves. During or after the encirclement of 6th Army messages, unless flown in, would definitly have to be sent by radio.

If Hitler was recieving updates during his journey, either by radio or by stopping and 'hooking up', Hitler had all he needed to give an withdrawl/breakout order to 6th Army or to give local commanders the freedom to act as they saw fit.

He could stop the train at any suitable rail station, hook up, and send.

He could wait for a update stop and do the same.

He could order the train to slow to a walking or even running pace at the next station and order a officer to disembark and proceed to the nearest secure landline to send such an order.

He could have sent such an order as he switched from his train to airplane, or a variation of above.

Or he could have sent a radio message from the train.

That Hitler was silent during this journey had more to do with the chareter of Hitler and a steadily creeping command inertia overtaking the system. (it would rear its head again on June 6th, 1944) As Steve Rodger's points out Hitler would not give such an order no matter where he might have been at the time and he would not make the effort that he could have.

Compare this to the Battle of Leyte Gulf. All communications had to be by radio. Nimitz broke his personal protocal and sent a message to Halsey ( "world wonders" message)to support the amphibious forces. Another commander (Spurance or Sprauge) sends a radio message in the clear (no encoding) pleading for help.

At a certain point a battle or war is at a turning point and it is more important that a message be sent and recieved than it is to use perfect operational security. This is one of those points. Message sucurity is a moot point in any event. The West was reading much of Enigma anyway, and an order to withdraw/breakout would hardly come as a surprize to the Soviets who were already doing as much as they could to prevent such an action.

p.s. No smart phones were harmed or used during this or any previous post.

Edited by belasar, 08 December 2012 - 06:29 PM.

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)

#74 Tamino

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 06:58 PM

Please, don't generalize: we are talking about the particular case with very particular background and scope. I gave particular information which entirely contradict your claims. And, by the way: Are you sure about the Enigma and why not? :D

Anyway, I will stop now addressing this of topic subject and resume dealing with the subject of this thread.

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#75 Tamino

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 11:30 AM

---------------------------

Edited by Tamino, 09 December 2012 - 03:59 PM.

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